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Personal Development

Manners Matter: 7 Tips for Better Business Etiquette

By David Ackert on June, 20 2014

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David Ackert

Lest I come off sounding like your mother, let me start off by saying that man-kissing-womans-handI have committed all of the following faux pas at one time or another. On a few occasions, I'm pretty sure they cost me business. I have come to learn the hard way that even the best meeting can be thwarted by a minor oversight in decorum. So, in case you skipped class in finishing school, here are a few reminders on etiquette:

1. Fashion sense - Gentlemen, if you're going to forgo the tie, wear a v-neck undershirt. We don't need to see your underwear.

2. Phone rule - Unless you're expecting a baby this week, start the meeting by turning off your phone and putting it away. Under no circumstances should it sit out on the table.

3. Stand for the shake - Whenever someone new enters a meeting, rise to shake their hand. Never shake a standing person's hand from a seated position. It makes you look short. And lazy.

4. The plate principle - At lunch, don't let the wait staff take your empty plate until everyone at the table has finished eating. Otherwise, your guests may feel like they have to rush their meal to catch up to you. And while they won't say anything at the time, they will curse you later when the indigestion sets in.

5. Pick up the tab - Always pay for the client's (or prospective client's) lunch. They pay your rates. They should at least get a free meal out of it from time to time.

6. Parking validation - When visiting a client or prospect at their office, do not expect them to validate your parking. If they offer, fine, but they shouldn't have to pay forty bucks just because you showed up at their downtown high-rise.

7. Cocktail couth - Don't go to a cocktail party hungry. Five words: alcohol on an empty stomach. A few more words: appetizers make for greasy handshakes, talking with a mouthful of meatballs, fumbling with canapé, guacamole breath, and spitting. Nothing good will come of these things. Remember, you aren't there to eat and drink. You're there to network.

You get only one shot at a first impression. And since you can't possibly know other people's pet peeves, play it safe so you don't inadvertently disrespect them.

So, that's my top 7. How about yours? Use the comments section below to make the world a more civilized place.


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